State Capture legal counsel urges Concourt to force Zuma to testify
Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi – legal counsel for the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture – has urged the Constitutional Court to force former president Jacob Zuma to file affidavits and answer to 35 witnesses who implicated him in state capture.
Ngcukaitobi also asked the Concourt Justices to rule that Zuma is not allowed to exercise his right to remain silent, saying it was in the interest of the taxpayers to know what transpired during his presidency.
However, things were not smooth sailing for Ngcukaitobi as he faced a grilling from one of the Justices, Chris Jafta, who questioned the Commission’s decision for direct access to the Concourt. Justice Jafta was of the view that the High Court also had similar powers to rule over the commission’s application.
Initially, it was Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga who fired the first salvo saying the commission waited for more than eight months to lodge the application but only did so after a dispute with Zuma in November.
In his reply to Jafta, Ngcukaitobi said the legal process in the High Court was likely to drag for more than a year, saying the lifespan of the commission comes to an end on March 31, 2021.
“It was for these reasons that we approached the court of the first and last instance. The reason we approached the Constitutional Court is that when Mr Zuma made his first application for the recusal of Deputy Chief Justice (Raymond Zondo) on November 16, his legal representation told Justice Zondo that if he rules against them, Mr Zuma will exercise his right to remain silent.
“After Justice Zondo ruled against his application, his legal representative said they were excusing themselves from the proceedings. Mr Zuma walked out of the commission without the permission of Justice Zondo,” Ngcukaitobi said.
He said a few days after the walk-out, Zuma’s “alter ego” – the Jacob Zuma Foundation, issued a statement saying Zuma would not return to the “manipulated and biased process.”
According to Ngcukaitobi, this was enough evidence that Zuma was refusing to appear before the commission saying he was a recalcitrant, belligerent, contemptuous witness towards the commission.
He also said that Zuma failed to comply with the Commission order issued by Justice Zondo on August 27 and September 8 which compelled him to file affidavits before the commission.
In reaction to Justice Madlanga, Ngcukaitobi blamed the eight months delay on Zuma saying his legal representative claimed in January this year that Zuma was sick and due to receive medical attention overseas.
“In March, there was a lockdown. The commission could not sit to hear evidence. It was only in June that it managed to resume. Mr Zuma was again served with a notice to appear in July, but he ignored it. It was only in November that he filed papers for the recusal of Justice Zondo,” Ngcukaitobi said.
Judgment was reserved.
Zuma and his legal representative were not present as they wrote to the Concourt on December 14, saying they would not participate in the proceedings.